According to a New York Times report, one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s top FBI agents was removed from the Trump-Russia investigation after it was discovered the agent had sent possible anti-Trump texts.
According to reports from the Times and Washington Post, special agent Peter Strzok was removed from the investigation after his superiors discovered he and another agent on the team exchanged text messages “disparaging” President Donald Trump and “supporting” Hillary Clinton during last year’s election.
After his removal, Strzok was re-assigned to the FBI’s human resources department. The move was a far cry from his title as deputy head of counterintelligence and was widely seen as a demotion.
It’s not clear what was said in the text messages, though people familiar with them said Strzok and the other agent would discuss the news of the day and share their opinions. The Post reported that the other agent is FBI lawyer Lisa Page, whom Strzok had an extramarital affair with.
ABC News reported in August that Strzok had left the investigation, though no reason was given at the time.
An inquiry into Strzok’s text messages is being handled by the bureau’s inspector general, who, according to the Times, is already investigating how the FBI handled investigations related to the 2016 campaign, such as the Trump-Russia and Clinton email probes.
Does Strzok have a connection to Clinton?
According to reports, Strzok was the lead investigator handling the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s private email server. The Daily Caller reported that he was so involved in the investigation that he was the agent who interviewed Clinton for the FBI just days before then-director James Comey announced there would be no charges recommended against her.
In addition, the Daily Caller reported that Strzok is connected to the anti-Trump dossier:
The Times also reported that Strzok relied on information provided to the FBI by Christopher Steele, the former British spy who was hired by an opposition research firm working for the Clinton campaign to investigate Trump’s Russia activities.
Steele briefed FBI agents in early July 2016 on some of the rumors he had heard about Trump. In a dossier he started working on in June 2016, Steele alleged that the Kremlin had blackmail material on Trump and that the Trump campaign was working directly with Russian government officials to influence the election.
“It took weeks for this information to land with Mr. Strzok and his team,” The Times reported in April.
What did the FBI say?
Though the FBI refused to comment directly on the record, Peter Carr of the special counsel’s office said: “Immediately upon learning of the allegations, the Special Counsel’s Office removed Peter Strzok from the investigation. Lisa Page completed her brief detail and had returned to the FBI weeks before our office was aware of the allegations.”
Meanwhile, the inspector general’s office said its team is “reviewing allegations involving communications between certain individuals, and will report its findings regarding those allegations promptly upon completion of the review of them.”
What does this all mean?
If the reports are correct, it shows that Mueller wants to keep his investigation as fair and objective as possible. Mueller clearly doesn’t want a perception of bias or impropriety to surround his investigation, which is good news for America — and the truth.